The syntactic and semantic history of the Finnish genitive subject

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Prototypical Finnish subjects are marked with the nominative case. In manynon-finite expression types, however, the subject is marked with the genitivecase. The genitive subject has grammaticalized from three different sources. Insome constructions, it developed from an earlier adverbial expressing a recipient,beneficiary or experiencer; in others, it originates in an adnominal possessivegenitive; and its background is a syncretistic accusative. The present paperanalyzes the properties of the different predecessors of the genitive subjectwhich have made earlier adverbials and objects susceptible to a reanalysis intogrammatical subjects. The paper sheds light on the nature and origins of thegenitive subject, and tackles the development of abstract grammatical categoriesfrom more concrete context-specific ones on a more general level.


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